Interview with Ahmad Kammoun: The Axe Middle East Social Media Case Study

Ahmad Kammoun is the Creative Director at Saracen Advertising, responsible for idea creation and strategy of social media marketing for various brands, including AXE Middle East. Axe Middle East started its social media marketing with a Facebook page on June 27, 2011. Efforts were focused on the entire of Middle East, but earlier this February, they adopted a more specific approach for Saudi Arabia, lead by Ahmad.

Ahmad stated that Axe found more interactivity with its audience online, through social networks, since its clientele is highly mobile & cyber. Being a “fun” brand, it found a cost-effective way to humanize and personify the brand for its target audience.

Axe’s goals from using social media for the Saudi market are:

  • To increase brand awareness,
  • To engage and interact with its target audience,
  • To support its traditional marketing campaigns,
  • To increase its sales by diversifying its clientele.

The brand defined its target audience as: Saudi men between the ages of 18 and 35, single and married, interested in learning about attracting women, tech savvy, and care more about having an attitude rather than just looks.

To achieve these goals, Ahmad kept focus on Facebook as its young adult male-dominated network makes it ideal. It is important to note, that the Facebook Page is managed by different admins for the various countries in the Middle East, but Facebook’s feature of allowing Pages to target specific countries with each post makes it possible to keep content and fans’ engagement separate for each market. His approach is to keep Facebook fans engaged with continuous campaigns that vary between traditional campaigns driving traffic to Facebook or inviting Facebook fans to take part, online campaigns that extend to offline activities, and sometimes separate online & traditional campaigns that don’t have the same message. Ahmad believes that a mix between traditional and Facebook campaigns works best for its audience to see the brand’s “face”, and get them to interact with it, giving 80% for online activities and taking 20% of it offline as to keep costs low while still keeping in touch with the audience.

Ahmad’s content strategy for the brand is to create his own content, rather than depend on sharing third-party content. The approach is to focus on the fans’ interests, such as college days, cars, football, etc. 

For example, when Eurocup 2012 was running, the page’s content focused on teams, games and scores, such as in image below, where Axe Middle East asked its Saudi fans to vote for the football team they support in Eurocup. The question resulted in 150 votes.

  Axe Middle East engages its fans with Questions.     

  Axe Middle East engages its fans with Questions. 


Ahmad also tried to maintain the level of engagement by launching photo contests; however, it wasn’t very successful so he rectified the tactic by “taking it offline” and inviting fans to visit Axe booths where they can have snapshots of themselves and get a free Axe deodorant in return, which salvaged the situation.

He also successfully used the fact that photo posts has higher engagement according to Facebook insights, and created mini-game posts such as “Spot the differences (between 2 photos)”, and puzzle photos that increased the virality of the post by asking fans to “share” them if they find the answers. The image below is an example of a post that got 23 shares.

   Axe Middle East Increases Virality with Photo Puzzles.

 Axe Middle East Increases Virality with Photo Puzzles.

Another example of highly-engaging posts are challenge posts, where fans were challenged to post 20 comments without being interrupted by another comment, and it resulted in over 400 comments.

Nonetheless, Ahmad primarily believes that the best tactic to drive engagement is creating and using “apps”. In the beginning of March, The Axometer App was launched, where fans can play online or join an Axe booth at malls to play, and measure their level of awesomeness and ability to attract women. Even without prizes, the campaign resulted  in an organic increase of 19’000 fans in a month and a half. Therefore, he plans to have 6 apps per year, that are supported with offline campaigns.

He also included Twitter in the social media mix, starting June; however, it didn’t get as much success even when he tried to convert Facebook fans to become Twitter followers and offered incentives. He believes it did not work because Facebook users and Twitter users speak different “lingos” and therefore, the majority of those who prefer Facebook, do not understand Twitter. He realizes that mere experimentation and engagement does not work on Twitter, and that a separate customized strategy should be developed to succeed on this network.

The main challenge that Ahmad faced the social media marketing of the brand is the cultural limitation in Saudi Arabia. Globally, the brand’s essence is “the mating game” that revolves around helping guys attract and hook up with hot women through using Axe deodorant. This called for re-adjusting the brand’s essence to respect the local culture while still trying to maintain harmony with the global brand image.

Another challenge that Ahmad faced are the seasonal drops in engagement, for example, during exam times where the majority of the young fans spend less time on Facebook. Ahmad tried to overcome the drop by sharing content focused on aiding fans in the occasion such as studying tips. 

Ahmad knew that the key to strategy success is continuous measurement. He used Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to set targets for 2 important Facebook metrics: Fans’ growth rate, and engagement rate. He tracked those KPIs using Facebook Insights solely, with no aid of third-party measurement tools. The effectiveness of the apps was measured through analytics provided within the apps that measure what features were used most and what weren’t, which provides guidelines for the future apps. Lastly,  consumer insights and reflect on sales were used to measure the success in increasing sales (brand goal) by having promoters at offline activities gather data from/about customers.  

This post is part of my MBA thesis, titled "Leveraging Social Media Marketing in Food and FMCG Industry in Saudi Arabia". To stay updated with the rest of the thesis, subscribe to my blog!